Using Medical Oxygen Safely

What Is an Oxygen Tank?

medical oxygen tankOxygen tanks are a type of storage system that holds oxygen or liquid oxygen in a pressurized container. The size and appearance of an oxygen tank can vary depending on the purpose of the container, where it is used and the mobility requirements.

Using Oxygen Tanks in Medical Therapy

Oxygen therapy, the term used to describe oxygen that doctors prescribe, requires a medical oxygen tank and an appropriate breathing device. Doctors use oxygen therapy in emergency rooms, during surgical procedures and on a long term basis for patients who require oxygen for a medical condition.

Long Term Oxygen therapy may be required for medical conditions such as:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • Pulmonary Hypertension
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Lung Cancer
  • Alpha 1

Administering Oxygen

Getting oxygen from the tank to the individual usually requires a mask or nasal cannula. The mask and nasal cannula are usually attached to the tank via a hose. A mask is then placed on the individual’s face over the mouth and nose. A nasal cannula is placed directly in the nostrils.

Although oxygen tanks are the containers that hold pressurized oxygen, they are used in several different settings and situations. The proper use of a medical oxygen tank and its dimensions will vary based on the tank a doctor determines is most appropriate.

Medical Oxygen Tank Safety

Many patients who use home and portable oxygen tanks wonder about the safety of storing the tanks. When care is taken in using and storing the tanks, the potential for fire and other hazards is minimized.

Precautions around oxygen tanks are as follows:

  • Keep the tanks at least ten feet from stoves, fireplaces, candles or any other open flame.
  • Do not smoke while on oxygen therapy, and do not allow others to smoke near you.
  • Do not use electric razors near oxygen tanks due to the potential for sparks.
  • Do not use oil, grease or other petroleum-based products on or near the tank, and do not use petroleum-based products on your skin while using the tank.
  • Mark each room where you have a tank with signs stating there are oxygen cylinders in use.
  • Ensure that all the smoke detectors in the house are working.
  • Alert the fire department and all utility companies that there is home oxygen therapy in use. They can help if there is a loss of power or failure of service.
  • Keep tubing well out of the way, and do not let it become bound up in furniture or create a tripping hazard.

medical oxygen concentratorUnfortunately, oxygen tanks can be burdensome. Portable oxygen concentrators are an alternative method for medical oxygen therapy. Learn about the pros and cons of oxygen tanks and oxygen concentrators here.

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